Metalcamp - 2011

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

My first run-in with the Swedish black metal band Watain was earlier this same year at the Metalfest in Germany after their show there, and from the way they behaved at that time, I was really hoping it would also be my final run-in with them...
Yet along they did come to Metalcamp as well, and a little curious was I to see what all the fuzz was about, so up we went to see their show.

”Slovenia, we have come here to celebrate the end of all things!”
- Erik Danielsson (vocals)

The whole thing began very slowly, and I couldn’t quite agree with myself whether I should take it seriously or fall flat on my arse laughing, as all the musicians were just standing around with hanging heads while Danielsson slowly walked around lighting all the candles which were placed all over the stage and as a final touch he put the two large Watain symbols on either side of the drums on fire as well. Very ceremoniously indeed...
The visual side of the show played a large part, as was evident not only in the aforementioned candles, but also in the many things which cluttered the stage to give of the right ’evil’ vibe. The band-members outfits, especially so Danielsson’s, were more elaborate than your run-of-the-mill pants and t-shirt thing, and Danielsson’s corpse paint was likewise one of the most artistically creations I have seen on this front, as is hopefully evident on the photos. Watain also made great use of pyrotechnics throughout the show which also helped lift the overall atmosphere, but when it came to the performance of the actual musicians we encountered the Achilles’ heel of the overall show – there was little more than headbanging going on here, and to be honest it wasn’t all that impressive considering how much thought on detail the rest of the setup bore evidence of.
Neither did Danielsson spend much time on talking to the audience, but I feel this is something which can be expected with this type of band, a good connection to other people is probably not deemed satanic and evil enough, but what do I know?

Even with this in mind, a surprisingly large crowd had chosen to stick around at this late hour, and most of these people were clearly more knowledgeable about the band than I was. Still, there wasn’t much going on in the crowd, but if it was because of the long day or the atmosphere of the concert I can only guess.
I was surprised to learn later on that Set Teitan (a.k.a. Davide Totaro) was playing with live with the band without me recognising him. I would have thought I should have done so since I have seen him before, while he was playing with Dissection (which sound was pretty recognisably in a lot of what Watain did). Of the other players I have no deeper knowledge, other than my memories of them from the Metalfest festival, which for their sake would be better forgotten...
Being consistent with the beginning of the show, all but Danielsson left the stage quickly after finishing the set. The vocalist then spent quite some time walking around blowing the candles out and finally kneeling down before the drums with his back to the audience and offered up a prayer to whatever cosmic chaos he puts his faith into.

Given my previous experience with the band I must admit that I really didn’t have high thoughts of either the band or their capabilities, and thus I was very surprised to hear that their music actually sounded very good. As I mentioned, quite similar to the melodic black metal of old Dissection, but this is not a bad thing. I still can’t stand the members as persons, but I can easily see why people who are only familiar with the music they put out dig them.

Setlist (incomplete):

Storm Of The Antichrist
Reaping Death
Sworn To The Dark

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